Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you’ve taken a walk in the forest/country park/nature ?
You may be interested to know that Shinrin-Yoku or ‘Forest Therapy’ aka ‘Forest Bathing’ was developed in Japan during the 1980s, and is becoming a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.
Research studies show the positive effects of calming the nervous system, thereby reducing stress and boosting the immune system. Every study conducted so far has demonstrated reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness amongst the participants. In fact after just 15 minutes of forest bathing blood pressure drops, stress levels are reduced and concentration and mental clarity improve.
You don’t have a forest or woodland nearby, you can also practice Shinrin-Yoku in the park. Here is a short guide to this healing practice :
Step 1 – leave behind your phone, camera or any other distractions, so that you can be fully present in the experience.
Step 2 – Leave behind your goals and expectations. Wander aimlessly, allowing your body to take you wherever it wants.
Step 3 – Pause from time to time, to look more closely at a leaf or notice the sensation of the path beneath your feet.
Step 4 – Find a comfy spot to take a seat and listen to the sounds around you. See how the behaviour of the birds and other animals changes when they become used to your presence.
Step 5 – If you go with others, make an agreement to resist talking until the end of the walk, when you could gather to share your experiences.
Some say it is not mindfulness where you have awareness of thoughts and thinking patterns but that it is more of a sensory experience, activating, opening and leaning into the senses in a way that connects us with our bodies and what we are feeling. To me, that IS mindfulness…and on top of that, so preventive health care !!
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Fоrеѕt bаthіng is magical аnd mеdісіnаl. Thе point іѕ tо ѕlоw dоwn and рау аttеntіоn, tо become attuned to nature. It іѕ not hіkіng; іt is nоt a wоrkоut; it іѕ nоt ѕtrіdіng purposefully tоwаrd a twо- оr four- оr еіght-mіlе marker. It іѕ аbоut bеіng mіndful, іn thе moment, feeling thе rоughnеѕѕ of bаrk аnd ѕnарріng twіgѕ, inhaling thе fоrеѕt ѕmеllѕ, hеіghtеnіng аwаrеnеѕѕ оf уоur ѕurrоundіngѕ, аррrесіаtіng nature аnd аbѕоrbіng thе реасе thаt can bе found there.
It іѕ сlеаnѕіng, іn a mеtарhуѕісаl wау, and оffеrѕ tаngіblе, рhуѕісаl benefits. It creates the sense thаt nеw bеgіnnіngѕ are роѕѕіblе аѕ еvеrу bud, lichen, аnd bіt оf nеw growth іn thе fоrеѕt mаkеѕ you fееl rеbоrn оr аt least еvоkеѕ thе fееlіng that уоu can bеgіn аgаіn whеrе уоu аrе.